Of Things Unseen {An Abstraction on the Cup}

I cannot say how pleased I am to have Kelli Woodford, my dear friend, here today to guest-write for Concrete Words. Her quiet, searching heart stirs me deep. I hope her words move you as much as they do me. And please, be sure to show her some lovin' for her words here. 

The styrofoam is warm in my hands. It imprints on my fingertips, a liquid story of contents unseen. 

Steam rises like prayers, fogging out the world as I draw the cup close, closer to my lips. I inhale the fluid decadence. Wishing I could ingest it just as slowly, as tangibly, as it escapes--wafting upward, upward. Always the scent lingering somewhere on the edges of time. I close my eyes. 

A chair skids loud across the flecked tile floor. It wakes me from my drifting. 

To the left, three men sit at a table set for four. One is slick bald. He looks like a preacher to me. Oh, not a preacher-comb-the-hair-over, wear-a-tie, King-Jimmy-in-hand preacher, but one of these cool guy preachers. The kind that sport those trendy, dark-rimmed glasses and the baldness without looking older than 40. 

I run the top of my middle finger along the rim of my cup. Circling, circling. My coffee is still too hot to drink, but I've nothing to do but sit with it and with my imagination. A mind at play among the rising fog. 

Their conversation is too low for me to make out, and I'm glad I don't hear it. I think I'd rather invent it. Bits and pieces, that's all we know, I wonder if he's saying. As a preacher, I have a responsibility to proclaim what I believe, but God help me if I don't spend just as much time with my hand clapped over my mouth, aghast at what great folly it is to ever speak with absolute certainty about God Almighty. He is not a tame Lion. No, no...

My imagination runs wild with the hope of what it would be to hear a preacher admit his finite understanding of God. To say what he knows as freely and gently as if whispered over a casket--instead of boisterous and aggressive, as if a little too used to the amplification of a microphone and stage lights. To give respect to the Mystery of all that defies explanation, instead of putting Eternity in a systematic box. But I know it's just my experience talking. He's leaning forward now, toward the others. Whatever he's saying, it's clear that he means it with all his heart. 

Velvet fingers, mine, stir serendipity into the coffee, sugar melting, sweet and silent. 

And I sense an opening. It's deep in me. 

Something creaks as mercies widen, unseen changes afoot. 

I raise my cup and lock eyes with the dark-rimmed stranger over yawning styrofoam. His lips and mine receive the contents poured into our respective open spaces. The misty prayers that rise with this touch to my face are less selfish somehow, and more generous. I see his nerves. They play the surface of his face like a guitar solo. He doesn't see me, I know now. He is looking at them, at himself. He feels the weight of this responsibility. For he holds something heavier in his hand than the cup from which he sips. 

And he deserves, not my contempt, but my compassion. It might not be wine of the covenant, but I feel the solidarity of our drink in tandem. I feel the words spoken in my narrowed places, now more open that empathy has done her work:

Take, drink, this is my blood, shed for you ... do this in remembrance. 

I whisper back, the echoes of another prayer uttered long ago, 

and the sound ricochets inside my cup, which now runneth over. 

That we may be one, Lord Jesus, 

that we may be one. 


Kelli hopes never to recover from the mighty mercy she has been shown. Although her life is now filled with more diapers than she’d like to count, she carves time out to write about finding God in the simple and the frustrating at Chronicles of Grace. 

Gratitude: {1109-1118}...
yellow and purple irises blooming in the yard :: how grown up my 12-year-old is--her intuition and quiet nature that are a gift to me :: my little one lying in bed with me in early morning and nuzzling up against my face with her cheek :: shafts of light across the couch :: beauty of early morning sun :: a cozy blanket and warm coffee :: my bible :: the comforting sound of clean, running water :: the cute sneezes of a certain 3-year-old

{This post shared with Ann, Laura, and Michelle} 


***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me is meant to be a permanent deal. sixinthesticks will now be it's home for good. Amber has said she can no longer do it on her blog. She has asked me to take it and run with it, change it up, make it my own. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I've never had so much fun with writing!! 

What this link-up is about: We "write out spirit" by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going "what in the world is a concrete word?!"--this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what's around us--concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber's take on this. It was very helpful to me--I think it will be beneficial for you, too.

A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words--
                                             Please no entries with how-to's, advertising, or
                                             sponsored posts
                                         5. We connect on twitter with the hashtag #concretewords--
                                               please share so others can join!

Today's prompt is the Cup

**Starting next week, Concrete Words will be going live every Sunday evening, sometime between 7 and 10 pm. I cannot promise an exact time, as my weekends are very spontaneous and I'm a little bit of a roving rebel.
The prompt next week is the Afternoon.{I'll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}


  1. This is something beautiful. You've created a wonderful space here, Nacole. And Kelli, a wondrously beautiful write. <3

  2. isn't this such a stilling place, such a grace-based blog? i love it here, too, Michele-Lyn. it's an honor to share my thoughts in this place. and thanks to you for reading.

  3. I love your revelation, Kelli. We do that, don't we - judge, criticize under our breath, waggle our fingers. I know I do, for sure. There is so much grace here in your words.

  4. Thank you, Kelli. You have given voice to that heart of "judging" that comes so automatically to some of us, yet you have shown us a better way! May I choose that better way for more often than I do!!!

  5. You've turned a sytrofoam cup into a thing of beauty Kelli. But then, you know I'm already a raving fan. Love you and the gift God has given you with words. sigh.

  6. it was a revelation, wasn't it? i hadn't thought of it as such, but you tagging it with that label enlightens me. thanks for reading, friend.

  7. you crack me up. a raving fan - ha! ;)

  8. Thank you, Michele. You are lovely, friend. Thinking of you so much. Thanks for coming by and loving on Kelli.

  9. Oh Kelli I love your writing! Fantastic post

  10. thanks so much, Ruth. i've heard some pretty high praise for yours, too. can't wait to read your words.

  11. thanks for this Kel. I love the way you expressed this.

  12. and thank you for popping in, Jason. isn't this a lovely place Nacole's got here? so restful with the music, i think.

  13. Kelli, I so love your writing and the way you turned a moment of questioning/trying to get a read/passing a possible judgment into one of solidarity and unity. Thought it so interesting that you and I both took this prompt from the coffee cup to the cup of communion. Bless you, friend.

  14. I love how God is oh, so evident in your heart and words, Kelli. You make me want to weigh my thoughts through the filter of God's grace--always God's grace. Thanks for linking this up with Wedded Wed, sweet friend! And thanks to you, Nacole, for hosting Kelli today!

  15. your words of encouragement are always so powerful, Beth. thank you.

  16. thank you Ashley, for the above kindness.
    now i'm off to read your post ... you've intrigued me.

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